The divide-and-conquer strategy of the CIA in France 1985-style

A good friend sent me a document that was released under the US Central Intelligence Agency’s rules about archives. The CIA has established a fabulous ‘Freedom of Information Act Electronic Reading Room’ where all sorts of stuff is released after they deem it benign to current security concerns. The 1985 CIA document – France: Defection of the Leftist Intellectuals – written by CIA operatives, provides an analytical summary of the leading lights in the French left-wing intellectual thought in the 1980s with a view of promoting ….. It is redacted but only marginally. There is no doubt as to what the message is. It helps us understand the forces that were mounted against the progressive Left by right-wing, pro-market forces and how the public was manipulated to reject This is part of the research I am currently doing on the way literature, particularly fiction, is used to advance the neo-liberal ideological position – to make it look as though the ideas about governments running out of money and the like are just extensions of our usual individual experience in families and households. That research will be disseminated in a paper that Louisa Connors and I are giving at the upcoming MMT conference in Kansas City.
Read the rest of this entry »

Spread the word ...
    Posted in Demise of the Left, Economics, Framing and Language | 1 Comment

    Central banks still funding government deficits and the sky remains firmly above

    There was an article in the Financial Times last week (August 16, 2017) – Central banks hold a fifth of their governments’ debt – which seemed to think there was a “challenge” facing policymakers in “unwinding assets after decade of stimulus”. The article shows how central banks around the world have been buying huge quantities of government (and private) bonds and holding them on their balance sheets. Apparently, these asset holdings are likely to cause the banks headaches. I don’t see it that way. The central banks, in question, could write the debt off any time they chose with no significant consequence. Why they don’t is the question rather than whether they will become insolvent if the values crash (they won’t) or whether the yields will skyrocket if they sell them back into the non-government sector (they won’t). Last week (August 15, 2017), the US Department of Treasury and the Federal Reserve Board put out their updated data on Foreign Holders of US Treasury Securities. Other relevant data was also published which helps us trace the US Federal Reserve holdings of US government debt. Overall, the US government holds about 40 per cent of its own total outstanding debt – split between the intergovernmental agencies (27.6 per cent) and the US Federal Reserve Bank (12.4 per cent). In some quarters, the US central bank has been known to purchase nearly all the change in total debt. That folks, is what we might call Overt Monetary Financing and the sky hasn’t fallen in yet as a consequence.
    Read the rest of this entry »

    Spread the word ...
      Posted in Central banking, US economy | 6 Comments

      Europe – the deliberate wastage of its youth continues

      Earlier this month (August 11, 2017), Eurostat published the latest European Union data for – Young people in the EU: education and employment. This data now allows us to track the fortunes of three age cohorts – 15-19, 20-24 and 25-29 years since before the crisis to the end of 2016. So a teenager prior to the crisis (2007) would be transiting into the 25-29 years cohort in 2016. One of the disturbing trends shown in the data is the increasing number of young people in the older ‘youth’ categories that in 2016 we classified as being Neither in Employment, nor in Education or Training (NEET). Some will have been in that category for the entire duration of the crisis – that is, they dropped out of school early, are not receiving any skills development and are unemployed. Whereas in 2007, the proportion of NEETs in the 25-29 years cohort was 17.2 per cent, that figure has risen to 18.8 per cent by 2016 (although the peak of 20.7 per cent was reached in 2012). This suggests that the systems which provide transitions between education and employment are not working effectively because the demand-side of the labour market is deficient. That is, there is a lack of jobs available overall and the most disadvantaged youth workers are at the back of the queue along with the disabled and other stigmatised cohorts (for example, Roma people in the European context). There is an urgent need for a true Youth Job Guarantee, to replace the faux Youth Guarantee that was introduced in 2012. But then that would require abandoning the obsession with austerity and dysfunctional fiscal rules. The European Commission’s answer to the problem will be to have another ‘summit’ or two and issue plenty of statements replete with motherhood statements.
      Read the rest of this entry »

      Spread the word ...
        Posted in Eurozone, Labour Force | 13 Comments

        When neo-liberal masquerades as anti-establishment

        Regular readers will know I was doing some speaking engagements in New Zealand a few weeks ago. Please read my blogs – Travelling all day today but here is something to watch and listen to and Reflections on a visit to New Zealand – for more coverage of that visit. New Zealand is in the midst of a national election campaign and it seems that one of the aspiring parties – The Opportunities Party (TOP) – which is trying to carve out a niche for itself as an ‘anti-establishment’ party in opposition to neo-liberalism – obviously determined that the Modern Monetary Theory (MMT) message that I introduced many progressive New Zealanders to during my visit threatened their own credibility (which is a reasonable perception). So, to kill off the threat TOP went on the attack, although as you will read they found it impossible producing a credible critique of MMT and still maintain their alleged anti-neoliberal stance. Whatever, I would hope not too many New Zealand voters get lulled into believing that TOP is somehow a progressive force. Their macroeconomic narrative is strewn with neo-liberal falsehoods that are like neon-signs advertising their roots!
        Read the rest of this entry »

        Spread the word ...
          Posted in Economics, New Zealand, Politics | 24 Comments

          The Weekend Quiz – August 19-20, 2017 – answers and discussion

          Here are the answers with discussion for this Weekend’s Quiz. The information provided should help you work out why you missed a question or three! If you haven’t already done the Quiz from yesterday then have a go at it before you read the answers. I hope this helps you develop an understanding of modern monetary theory (MMT) and its application to macroeconomic thinking. Comments as usual welcome, especially if I have made an error.
          Read the rest of this entry »

          Spread the word ...
            Posted in Saturday quiz | 15 Comments

            The Weekend Quiz – August 19-20, 2017

            Welcome to The Weekend Quiz. The quiz tests whether you have been paying attention or not to the blogs I post. See how you go with the following questions. Your results are only known to you and no records are retained.
            Read the rest of this entry »

            Spread the word ...
              Posted in Saturday quiz | 9 Comments

              Australian labour market – stumbling along with no definitive trend

              The latest labour force data released today by the Australian Bureau of Statistics – Labour Force data – for July 2017 shows that total employment rose only modestly (27,900) while full-time employment contracted. Part-time employment rose by 48,200 reversing the decline from last month. As a result of a rise in the participation rate (0.1 points), unemployment rose by 1,100, and the official unemployment rate decreased by less than 0.1 pts to 5.6 per cent. Underemployment rose to 14 per cent as monthly hours of work declined with the fall in full-time employment. The broad labour underutilisation remains high at 14 per cent with unemployment and underemployment summing to 1,812.6 thousand persons. The teenage labour market showed a slight improvement but remains in a poor state. Overall, my assessment of the Australian labour market is that it remains in an uncertain state. There is no definitive trend yet.
              Read the rest of this entry »

              Spread the word ...
                Posted in Labour Force | 1 Comment

                Australia – real wages growth zero and the rip-off of workers continues

                When the Australian Bureau of Statistics released its latest wages data in May (for the March quarter) we learned that real wages were falling as a result of nominal wages failing to keep pace with the modest inflation rate. Today (August 16, 2017), the ABS released the – Wage Price Index, Australia – for the June-quarter 2017. For the sixth consecutive quarter, annual growth in wages has recorded its lowest level since the data series began in the December-quarter 1997. Nominal wages growth in Australia was just 1.9 per cent in annual terms and equal to the inflation rate of 1.9 per cent. So on the back of real wage cuts in the March-quarter, workers enjoyed zero real wages growth in the June-quarter. This is in the context of on-going productivity growth, which means that the profit share in national income rose again as real unit labour costs plunged. But employment growth also remains flat. This represents a major rip-off for workers. The flat wages trend is also intensifying the pre-crisis dynamics, which saw private sector credit rather than real wages drive growth in consumption spending. Further, the forward estimates for fiscal outcomes provided by the Australian government are now not achievable, given the flat wages growth. There is no way the tax receipts will rise in line with the projections, which assumed much stronger wages and employment growth than will occur under current austerity-type fiscal settings.
                Read the rest of this entry »

                Spread the word ...
                  Posted in Labour costs | 15 Comments

                  Japan is different, right? Wrong! Fiscal policy works

                  Japan is different, right? Japan has a different culture, right? Japan has sustained low unemployment, low inflation, low interest rates, high public deficits and high gross public debt for 25 years, but that is cultural, right? Even the mainstream media is starting to see through the Japan is different narrative as we will see. Yesterday (August 14, 2017), the Cabinet Office in Japan published the preliminary – Quarterly Estimates of GDP – which showed that the Japanese economy is growing strongly and has just posted the 9th quarter of positive annual real GDP growth. Private consumption and investment is strong, the public sector continues to underpin growth with fiscal deficits and real wages are growing. The Eurozone should send a delegation to Tokyo but then all they would learn is that a currency-issuing government that doesn’t fall into the austerity obsession promoted by many economists (including those in the European Commission) can oversee strong growth and low unemployment. Simple really. The Japan experience is interesting because it demonstrates how the reversal in fiscal policy can have significant negative and positive effects in a fairly short time span, whereas monetary policy is much less effective in influencing expenditure.
                  Read the rest of this entry »

                  Spread the word ...
                    Posted in Fiscal Statements, Japan | 17 Comments

                    Jacques Delors – a failed leader not a champion of a prosperous Europe

                    It is amazing how history is revised when it is convenient. It is also amazing how the same events, that from my perspective are rather clear, can be diametrically interpreted by others, who want to run a different agenda. A good example of these phenomena can be found in a recent UK Guardian article (August 11, 2017) – Jacques Delors foresaw the perils of austerity. How we need his wisdom now. When I saw the headline I thought it must have been an article seeking to elicit some sort of deep irony. Jacques Delors – perils of austerity – wisdom – all in the same title. Ridiculous. Through the lens I view the work of Jacques Delors I can only see the abandonment of a progressive social vision, the unnecessary surrender to neoliberalism, and then, a bit later, as an inevitable consequence of these shifts – the disastrous and dysfunctional creation of the Eurozone with all its embedded and destructive austerity biases. The unfortunate fact is that the UK Guardian article was deadly serious. Oh dear!
                    Read the rest of this entry »

                    Spread the word ...
                      Posted in Demise of the Left, Eurozone | 8 Comments